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15 July, 2024
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Self isolation travelers find SMS loophole

System not designed to block access to SMS 8998 for self isolation travelers who fly under the radar


Travelers to Cyprus including university students visiting home may be cheating the system, a local network reports, saying a loophole in the SMS system is being exploited by some people who ought to self-isolate for at least three days after landing on the island.

According to Cyprus Times, a number of travelers including mainly university students abroad have found a loophole where they send an outing notification to SMS Service 8998 without the system being able to flag them during the first 72 hours following their arrival.

Travelers coming from countries classified as high risk destinations amid the coronavirus pandemic are technically able to violate a 72-hour self isolation rule before they undergo a second PCR test without the system detecting them.

While all travelers to Cyprus are all required to fill out a Cyprus Flight Pass, some fail to disclose their Cypriot mobile number on the form but provide instead a foreign number

Cyprus Times said it had been informed that air travelers to Cyprus, who are all required to fill out a Cyprus Flight Pass, fail to disclose their Cypriot mobile number on the form, providing instead their foreign number.

According to the story, failure to provide a local number can help travelers conceal their identity in case health officials decide to follow up and investigate whether or not people under self-isolation orders are complying with the rules.

Innovation deputy minister Kyriacos Kokkinos said there was no provision or technical specification that would block someone during self-isolation from sending a text notification for a legitimate outing.

Legitimate outings are permitted for the month of April by sending SMS messages up to twice a day during the week and up to three times on weekend days, with people required to send a text before going out each time containing information such as their ID number and zip code.

“Even though it would be technically possible to block people who are in self-isolation, there is no legal basis to instruct providers to block access to 8998,” Kokkinos said.

The innovation minister made clear that people who knew they ought to self-isolate and chose to go out were blatantly violating the rules.

Cyprus  |  travel  |  pandemic  |  self isolation  |  SMS 8998  |  air passengers  |  PCR test  |  Kokkinos

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